New Delhi : After a resounding 17-0 win over Thailand, the Indian junior men’s hockey team on Sunday advanced to the semi-finals of the ongoing Junior Asia Cup 2023 in Oman. Subsequently, the Indian team also qualified for the FIH Junior Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 5 to 16 December 2023. India will now face Korea in the semi-finals of the Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 on Wednesday.
Indian men’s hockey team captain Uttam Singh while discussing the upcoming game in a virtual press conference on Monday said, “There is a good atmosphere in our camp. One of the goals of our tournament was to qualify for the FIH Junior Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, which we accomplished. We are one of the top teams in Asia, so it is important that we do well in the junior men’s Asia Cup as well. We have done well so far, and will continue to do so in the semi-finals.
“When we prepare in the camp, we never know which team we are going to face at which stage. So, we always keep our plans and goals in mind and try our best to stick to them against any opposition.”
The Indian team remained unbeaten in the pool stage of the tournament. The team won their first match against Chinese Taipei 18–0 and followed it up with a 3–1 victory over Japan. Against traditional rivals Pakistan, India played out a 1–1 draw and then thrashed Thailand 17–0 to top Pool A.
When asked about the team’s performance in the tournament so far, Indian junior men’s hockey team coach CR Kumar said, “We have always believed in this team. We conducted a long camp and we prepared well with the help of Hockey India and SAI. We are looking forward to a good match against Korea. The team has done well in the tournament so far, and we stick to our plans. We would like to continue the momentum in the upcoming games.”
“It is always good to have a tough match before going into the semi-finals. We enjoyed the matches and we proved our ability.”
Meanwhile, Korea have also been in good form in this tournament, beating Uzbekistan 6-1 and following that up with an 8-1 win over Oman. Korea lost 1–3 to Malaysia but came back to beat Bangladesh 3–1 to finish second in Pool B.
The last time India’s junior men’s hockey team faced Korea was in the 2013 Hockey Junior World Cup Men, which ended in a 3–3 draw. Since 2005, the two teams have met five times, with each team winning twice and one game ending in a draw.
On the pressure of playing in the semi-finals, Uttam Singh said, “We did well in the Sultan of Johor Cup last year and we gave a good fight to strong teams. We beat Australia to win the title. We have that experience with us in this tournament which will help us in the matches to come.”
The Indian junior men’s hockey team will play against Korea in the semi-finals on Wednesday, May 31 at 8 PM IST.